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September 1, 2004

Vincent Spadea



Q. Do you have any superstitions or quirks out on the court, things you do for luck?

VINCENT SPADEA: Superstitions? Not really. I have tactics that I use to help me feel better or play better, but it's for more of a constructive purpose, not a mental block or to overcome a hurdle that might not be there.

Q. What kind of car do you drive?

VINCENT SPADEA: I drive a Hoopty. Do you know what that is?

Q. No.

VINCENT SPADEA: No, it's not a Hoopty. I have a BMW X5.

Q. Do you have any particular junk foods or anything that you like?

VINCENT SPADEA: Let's see, some sour cream onion chips with some dip, man, some beef jerky, peanut butter, pizza, a whole lot of pizza, Haagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream bars, a whole lot of them. And one more thing. Funions, yeah.

Q. What do we owe your resurgence to this year? Any particular aspect to your conditioning, ramping up of your game?

VINCENT SPADEA: Well, my resurgence started 2002. I started working with Pete Fisher out in California, started kind of replanning my comeback, going out to challengers, just recommitting mentally, getting in shape, going out and playing every match and trying to get my ranking back. But I think I've added a lot of dimensions to my game. My serve has gotten better, my transition game has gotten to another level. It's competent now. I think mentally, you know, I'm running the balls down better, I'm competing better. You know, the matches I lose, I'm right there losing tiebreakers, three-set matches. I'm always playing long matches. I'm a different player than I was the first part of my career.

Q. Were you at a point where it was either do one thing or the other, either quit or make the effort to be a top player again?

VINCENT SPADEA: It was feeling that way. I mean, I was 27. I wasn't going to quit at 27. If I kept floundering in the challengers like I was doing, I would have probably have stopped a couple years after that, you know, because that's just like a slow death to do that, you know. And then teaching tennis is even slower, so I would have probably started that at some point. But at the same time I knew I couldn't live like that, and each day was eating at me. I just said, you know, "I need to make -- tennis, this is me. I have to get back."

Q. How did you lose it in the beginning?

VINCENT SPADEA: I don't really know. I mean, I never really went through a very deep personal crisis or any type of, you know, extreme set of circumstances, family emergencies or even in my personal life. I think it was just a little bit of injury compiled with just, you know, losing edge, losing confidence, maybe how I was hitting the ball and how I was approaching my game style. You know, not enjoying the lifestyle, I wasn't traveling as well. You know, there's a lot of pressure on you when you're Top 20. Every match that you play the following year, there's a lot, you know, lying on that because you did so well the year before, and people expect a lot. You know, it just kind of unraveled. But, I mean, look at matches like today. You only win these matches by a small margin and you really have to come up with some great points to do it. Tennis is getting better every year. I was just a victim of the harsh realities of the tennis life.

Q. Are those realities harsher if you don't have a lot of big weapons?

VINCENT SPADEA: I agree, absolutely. You see some really like grinders, some heavy groundstrokers having a great year, then they kind of disappear. It takes a big toll mentally and physically on your legs because you have to be there every point, you can't just sort of serve your way through a set or a match and just worry about one break. You know, it's definitely something that hurt me because I wasn't playing as aggressive even as I could have been. And that's what I realized a couple years later. But, yeah, I mean, you know, I -- I answered that question, right (smiling)?

Q. Can you think of a moment that it turned around? Can you think of sitting and watching tennis on television, sitting in a bar somewhere, deciding I've got to do this or not do this?

VINCENT SPADEA: New York City, south of Houston, Soho, as it's known, sitting in a cafe. No friends, nothing to do, four days before September 11th, you know, feeling like this dark cloud over me, you know, just contemplating what is going to happen, you know. I mean, my income is not what it used to be. If anything, I was in the red at that point for the year. You know, I was just, you know, kind of reflecting. Watching people in New York City is kind of an experience. Everyone's kind of on a mission going somewhere, trying to make a productive day out of it. Here I am walking aimlessly like sort of the artistic flounderer that you see sometimes in that area. So I felt very comfortable, but at the same time there was a point where I lost it and I was just like, "You know what, where are the Yellow Pages? I need to do something about this." You know, I was just like, you know, I panicked. It was like a panic. It was good for me. I needed some time alone. I think sometimes when you're alone, you know, you realize what you want for yourself instead of getting any advice from other people. I just decided to make some phone calls just from that cafe sitting there. Wasn't getting anyone to return my calls or even answer them that were my existing acquaintances. So I started to -- you know, I started clean slate. I was like, "I'm going to get a new tennis team and get at this." I have some people in my tennis life that are very motivational. I kind of sought out their advice.

Q. What brought you to that cafe?

VINCENT SPADEA: What brought me to that cafe? Actresses and models. Unfortunately, weren't talking to me. I was like, "Geez, man, what is life coming to?" You know what I mean? I was living the good life, but I really didn't have anything to say to anybody. I'd already bragged about my years before that. It was time for me to start fresh, you know, have a passion again. It's great to have something to wake up tomorrow for, you know, a challenge, an ambition. It's not so much financial motivation or even to be famous. It's more something, you know, to activate your brain and be like, you know, really going and meeting challenges that you set out for yourself, goals, feeling productive. I think that's what initiated this whole thing because I just felt like there was no direction, there was no purpose. And I just finished losing in the last round of qualifying in this tournament to a guy named David Nalbandian. Never heard of that name again, right?

Q. Did you reach Pete Fisher that day when you were making the calls?

VINCENT SPADEA: I did. I reached Pete Fisher, I reached Jim Pierce, I reached Charles Man -- no, that's cold. I reached every big house in America. No, I reached the sports psychologist. You know, I made some calls that weren't as successful. But it was the purpose of what I was doing. You know, I think I even called Nick Bollettieri. I called a bunch of people and sought out what I was really trying to aim at after that. I really feel uncomfortable talking in front of this mic. I can't express myself. I've got to practice.

Q. A lot has been made of your rap. Do you have a rapper name?

VINCENT SPADEA: I don't want to elaborate on that because it's all in the works. I'm sort of contemplating about a few different names. I had a couple good names. I made some T-shirts, posters. I'm working on an album. But it didn't fly so well, the name. The work is good.

Q. You've had a lot of long matches. You were down 5-1 in Paris. You said in Paris the fat lady knows not to come to your matches. Are you able to kind of finish them off a little faster now? How is that going? Is she showing up yet?

VINCENT SPADEA: I don't think so. She's not showing up that soon. But I think I've been -- at Wimbledon I won nine straight sets. I was in the fourth round. The fat lady, you know, she was eating a lot that day. You know what I mean? She was feeling good. You know, I think I'm just trying to be more aggressive and end points and be a little bit more convincing when I'm up a break and I have a chance to capitalize. The clay courts, you know, I think that in particular was a more challenging situation. It's harder to just wipe people off on the court on clay. I had a match in the Olympics which I won 6-Love, 6-1, I which I haven't done -- probably nobody's done in a long time, except for Roddick last night. That was a long time (smiling). But, yeah, I mean, I definitely think I'm starting to close matches out. When I get up a break or I'm serving for the match, like today, I was pleased to not have to go five sets again.

End of FastScripts….

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